Stunning sunset start for the 2023 Tollgate Islands Race

A fleet of 22 boats were gathered near Point Piper for the 1900hrs start of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia’s 260 nautical mile Tollgate Islands Race – the third of six races in the prestigious 2023/2024 Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore.

It was a beautiful and sunny Spring evening with a light but constant 6-8kt NE/NNE breeze – enough to guarantee a good and even start ahead of the lengthy trip south to round the Tollgate Islands off Batemans Bay before returning to Sydney.

Anthony Johnston’s Reichel Pugh Maxi 72 URM Group continued its recent good form, having won the 2023 Noakes Sydney Gold Coast Race back in July, to be first out the Heads. She had closely crossed last year’s winner and race record holder John Winning Jr’s VPLP/Verdier 100 Andoo Comanche four times up the Harbour before finally gaining their advantage when the larger boat lost some ground after heading deeper into Watsons Bay. 

The pair were closely followed by the two TP52s, Seb Bohm’s Smuggler and Mark Spring’s Highly Sprung, ahead of Richard Harris’ Cookson 50 Sticky, Alexander Flecknoe-Brown’s Bakewell-White 40 Lightning and Daniel Edward’s Matt1245 White Noise.

The J/99s led the two-handed fleet out to open water with Shane Connelly and Tony Sutton aboard Rum Rebellion and Paul Beath and Joe de Kock on Verite pushing out mid-channel, whilst the two Jeanneau Sunfast 3300s, Nigel Nattrass and Graham Biehl’s Tumbleweed and the only interstate entry, Tasmanians Rob Gough and John Saul’s Kracken III, made good ground up the eastern shore.

It could be a relatively slow night ahead if the forecast 8-15kt breeze – expected to swing into the west before midnight – fails to freshen early but should offer better conditions for competitors tomorrow morning than had been previously suggested.

It is possible that the crew of Andoo Comanche may better their race record time of 20 hours,16 minutes 49 seconds, set last year in the inaugural 2022 Tollgate Islands Race. Most of the fleet is expected to arrive back at the finish line near Watsons Bay on Sunday

The Club will be open for returning competitors throughout the night on Saturday and Sunday if needed to welcome and feed all competitors.

Photos: CYCA Media

The Audi Centre Sydney Bluewater Pointscore 

  • Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore (awarded to the overall IRC winner)
  • Tasman Performance Series (awarded to the overall PHS winner)
  • Bass & Flinders Series (awarded to the overall scratch winner) 
  • Wild Rose Pointscore (encourages female participation across all boats in the Audi Centre Sydney Blue Water Pointscore)

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA)

The Cruising Yacht Club of Australia (CYCA) is Australia’s premier yacht club and home to what is considered yachting’s ‘Everest’ – the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Members and visitors to CYCA enjoy being part of an active Club in a superb location with state-of-the-art facilities & an international reputation that attracts yachts and crews from all over the world for the climax of the sailing calendar and one of Australia’s greatest sporting events.

Nestled along the beautiful Rushcutters Bay foreshore, the Club enjoys stunning harbour views and world-class facilities, offering its 3,100+ Members and many visitors plenty of excuses to visit regularly. At just three kilometers from Sydney’s CBD, a short drive or beautiful comfortable stroll, CYCA’s stunning location is a major drawcard for our community.

More information on BWPS here

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